Technology redesigns and ups the feature ante

It’s a happy Friday over at as a new look and a refreshed Laconica version went live today. The refresh gives a major interface makeover, including the addition of a tag cloud on a member’s profile, further demonstrating Laconica’s integration of hashtagging as a core feature of the platform. My hashtags are very predictable.

The killer feature of this refresh, though, is integrated support for groups. People have been clamoring for groups on Twitter for a while now, and Laconica delivers. A group is indicated by an exclamation point (!) prepended to a string indicating the group name. Eugene started a Charleston group referenced as !chs. If one mentions !chs in an update and they are a member of the group, that update is automatically added to the timeline for that group. This strikes me, at first glance, as a more structured way to find updates for events (like conferences) than by using hashtagging. It will be interesting to see where people take it.

Once again, Laconica demonstrates the beauty of development in the open as opposed to Twitter’s closed system. While a lot of people like Twitter the way it is, is once again reasserting its technological dominance over an increasingly restrictive and closed Twitter system. If you haven’t been back to in a while, I urge you to take a look; if you’ve never used it, try it! You can send your updates to Twitter with no problem, so your Twitter followers won’t miss out on what you’re up to.


Twitter’s down — now what?

If you’ve been on Twitter anytime so far this year, you know how bad 2009’s been treating it. First a phishing scheme, then a completely unrelated hacking, and then MacWorld clogged the service’s tubes. Wednesday brought a respite, but Thursday the Failbots and Fail Whales returned early and often. When those weren’t popping up, users were greeted with timelines an hour or more into the past, making Twitter largely unusable. To make matters worse, today’s starting with more of the same. (I blew off some steam about this Wednesday night on Serious Business, and if their problems continue, Twitter will get another tongue-lashing next week. The Twitters are serious business.)

A lot of people are new to Twitter since its epic meltdown this summer, so they may not know that there are a couple other places you might be able to find your Twitter friends while Twitter’s down — and, for that matter, even while it’s up, as each service brings a set of unique and valuable qualities to the table that make them worth sticking around.


Stuff I’ve liked lately

I’ve been running across some neat stuff on the ‘Nets these days, such as…

  • The redesigned It’s really improved; the social networking aspects are far stronger now, as friend requests are actually highlighted better, and they’re even adding a little News Feed-like action. It’s also nice that I can see my loved tracks (I do a lot of lovin’ on My favorite part? The graphical breakdowns now are more than just “last week” and “overall” — you can get breakdowns from a year, six months, and three months as well. Killer; helps me identify a lot of musical trends. Check mine out and maybe even friend me!
  • Fail We Can Believe In. This Obamaized Fail Whale graphic is oddly appropriate seeing how Twitter took a dump in the last couple days and screwed a lot of people’s follower/following lists up. They’ve been getting those restored, but the whale still reigns supreme. (More on Twitter’s barf in a later post, this one is supposed to be positive!)
  • The Tropical Weather FriendFeed Room. This FriendFeed room pulls in feeds from the National Hurricane Center as well as Dr. Jeff Masters’ tropical blog on Weather Underground into an easy-to-follow, and easy-to-discuss format that FriendFeed is great for. It’s been a wonderful time-saver with the recent tropical activity in the Atlantic.
  •, the open-source, federated Twitter-like network. If things keep progressing at the pace they’re progressing, could stand a serious challenge to Twitter. They are adding features at a monstrous pace, and was just added as the latest supported microblogging service in Twhirl. Best part? Anybody can run the software powering (it’s called Laconica), making for a truly federated microblogging platform.

Seen anything you’ve liked lately? Throw it in comments. :)